Have you ever considered training to become a flight instructor but not known where to start?
This guide aims to help you understand the training required to become a flight instructor, including the opportunity for development, the hours and salary you can expect to earn.
Where do I start?
To embark on your Flight Instructor (FI) Rating, you can have either a Private or Commercial Pilot’s Licence. However, without additional training, you are only entitled to deliver flight training on ratings you already possess.
If you want to progress on to delivering more advanced modules/phases of flight training, you will need to complete further ratings and increase your flight and instruction experience.
There are many schools able to deliver the necessary training including ourselves (click here for more information about our flight instruction).
What are the entry requirements?
You will need to complete a pre-entry flight test with an FIC instructor within six months of the start date of the course. Besides, you will need to:
• Hold a PPL (A) and have completed at least 200 hours of flight time of which not less than 150 hours are as pilot in command (PIC) and have met the knowledge requirements for a CPL (A), unless training as an F1 (A) to provide training for the LAPL (A) only.
• CPL (A)
• Have flown at least 30 hours on a single-piston powered airplane of which 5 hours should have been done within six months of your pre-entry flight test.
• Have completed a VFR cross-country flight as PIC including a flight of at least 540km (300nm) in the course of which full stop landings at two different aerodromes shall be made.
What training do I need to complete to begin instruction?
You will note (from the entry requirement section) that if you have a CPL (A), you will be in an excellent position to start you Flight Instruction Training. So, if you have recently completed an Integrated Flight Deck Programme with FTA (full-time or the equivalent via the modular route), you will immediately be able to start your FI course.
What does the training involve?
The Flight Instruction Course takes around 10/12 weeks (full-time) and includes both ground and flight training.
The flight training includes 30 hours of instruction of which 25 hours is dual flight instruction. The remaining 5 hours may be mutual flying, that is two student instructors flying together to practice flight demonstrations. The ground training is comprised of 125 hours of which some time is self-study.
Once the training is complete, you need to complete a skill test with a flight instructor examiner.
Do I have what it takes?
A good instructor will share many of the same qualities required of any pilot. You need to have a love of flying, you need to be experienced and possess a curious mind with a continuous thirst to learn more.
Read our mini-guide on the top 10 skills and abilities required to teach others to fly - according to one of our highly experienced instructors. The full article is available here: The #10 skills and qualities you need to be a good flight instructor
What is the cost?
Most flight instruction courses cost around £10,000. The price will vary according to where you train, however, be sure to check what is included with the training as the final test fee and aircraft hire can be an additional charge.
Also, independent bodies and charities such as the Honorable Company of Air Pilots offer grants and scholarships for FI courses and ratings. Their latest round of bursaries are available to apply for now on their website, and Tom is an Instructor who was successful in his application to complete an FI apprenticeship, which was delivered by FTA Global:
“I feel so lucky to be paid for what feels more like a hobby, than a job. I get to share my passion for flying on a daily basis with like-minded students, and I’m constantly learning whilePrivate Pilot's Licence gaining experience.”
Once I have completed my FI Course what can I teach and where can I work?
What are the opportunities and requirements for development?
As an instructor in an industry where pilots are in high demand, you will readily secure a role with a flight school. Flight Instructors are sought after by flying clubs and schools around Europe, in addition to those delivering commercial pilot training.
Onwards and upwards
To progress to the next stage of your instructing career, you will want to complete your Instructor Instrument Rating (IRI). To achieve an FI IRI certificate, you need to:
• Have an IR
• Be entitled to act as PIC on the aircraft during instruction
• Have flown at least 200 hours (of which 50 hours may be instrument ground time in a simulator).
The training to become an Instrument Rating Flight Instructor entails 5 hours flight instruction on an aircraft and 10 hours technical training, including the revision of instrument theoretical knowledge, the preparation of lesson plans and the development of classroom instruction skills.
Once complete you will be able to deliver elements of advanced flight instruction including the IR. What you won’t be able to offer, however, is the ME CPL training.
I have always enjoyed teaching and learning, and both my parents were teachers, so it seemed the most natural path to take.
Opportunities for ex-airline pilots
Flight Instruction is an excellent option for those with a vocation to teach, newly qualified pilots but also those who have worked as airline pilots. Airline pilots who have been negatively impacted by budget constraints and therefore redundancy are able to seek financial support with funding a flight instruction course. Speak to your work coach for more information.
General life changes and the pandemic can encourage individuals to identify shifts in priorities. Flight instruction offers an attractive work life balance, as Chief Flying Instructor James explains:
"From a personal perspective, the work-life balance is a big plus. I have a young child and at the end of the day I go home to my wife and daughter. That time with my family and friends is very important to me. When it comes to the teaching, I enjoy seeing a student’s progress during training, from day 1 through to completing the final exams."
If you train and work as a flight instructor but choose to move on or back to the airlines you can and vice versa. The street is not one way.
Advanced Instructor Status
If you want to find yourself in an elite, select group of instructors, you will want to attain your advanced instructor status. To do this, you need to complete your ME CRI (Multi-Engine Class Rating Instructor) training. The technical training includes the revision of technical knowledge, the preparation of lesson plans and the development of classroom/simulator instructional skills.
The prerequisites to become an advanced flight instructor are as follows:
• Hold an ME CPL licence
• Be entitled to act as PIC on the aircraft during instruction
• Have flown at least 500 hours flight time as a pilot of an aircraft*
• Have flown at least 30 hours as Pilot in command (PIC) on the applicable type or class of aircraft. Supervised Pilot in Command time (SPIC) time is not allowed towards this requirement.
*does not include microlights
A qualified Advanced Flight Instructor Examiner then completes the assessment for the aircraft.
What can I earn as a qualified Flight Instructor?
The salary of a flight instructor will start at around £25,000. The salary increases based on experience, and as an advanced instructor, you can expect to earn more than £50,000 a year.
“Nearly every one of my former students has gone on to work for airlines now, and for me, it is so rewarding when I can recognise my students' voice’s over the radios”
We know that to deliver the best calibre training, we require the best calibre instructors and so continually invest in our staff to support them in developing within our business.
Complete our Flight Instructor Course and you will be invited to be interviewed for a role with the company. Learn more about our flight instructor course here.